Diagnostic testing for COVID-19
We are proud to have developed two diagnostic tests to help identify patients who have, or have had, novel coronavirus. Roche Diagnostics has formed a partnership with the UK Government to help the NHS scale up its clinical testing for COVID-19 across the whole of the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales).
Within this partnership, Roche Diagnostics is providing its PCR test – performed using a simple swab – as well as the platforms in NHS laboratories on which that test runs to provide a result. This is part of the first pillar of the Government’s testing strategy. The UK-wide roll-out is being coordinated by Public Health England on behalf of the UK Government, working in partnership with NHS England and NHS providers from the devolved nations. Since March 28, 15 laboratories have already gone live with the new Roche Diagnostics test across the UK and Ireland, with more to come.
We have also been working collaboratively with the Health Service Executive and the National Clinical Program for Pathology (NCPP) to increase testing capacity within the Republic of Ireland. This includes installation of a new, fully-automated PCR testing platform at the National Virus Reference Laboratory in Dublin.
Reliable and accurate antibody testing is a crucial next step in understanding the spread of this virus, and in the next phase of our response to this pandemic. Following successful completion of the extensive testing and evaluation processes required for all diagnostic tests, we are working with the UK Government, and others, to roll out hundreds of thousands of our high quality antibody tests, per week, to the NHS.
Investigating treatment options
While there are currently no approved treatment options for the treatment of COVID-19, we are actively involved in understanding the potential of our existing portfolio.
As part of this, Roche has announced the initiation of COVACTA, a global Phase III clinical trial that has been approved by the FDA and MHRA to evaluate the safety and efficacy of one of our medicines plus standard of care in hospitalised adult patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. This is the first global study in this setting and there are eight UK sites participating in the study. Separately we are also taking part in the world’s biggest pandemic study, RECOVERY, looking at whether existing medicines can be used to combat Covid-19, and REMAP-CAP, a second Government-endorsed study.
In parallel to our participation in this trial, we have also been in dialogue with the MHRA and the NHS (across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) to understand their strategy for dealing with the pandemic. We hope that by working closely together we can support them in a way which offers the best outcomes for patients and relieves pressure on the NHS, Government and frontline healthcare workers.
Diabetes Care offering support to the health system
In a bid to mitigate pressures on hospitals and clinicians, Roche Diabetes Care has extended all warranties for insulin pumps that were due to expire before the end of June, initially for three months.This warranty extension frees up the time of healthcare professionals and allows people with diabetes to make a decision about a new pump at a more appropriate time.
People with diabetes are now being given free access to the Pro version of Roche's popular diabetes management app. mySugr Pro. This will help improve the experience of digital and/or telephone appointments for people with diabetes by making it possible to share blood glucose monitoring information remotely very simply. Normally priced at £20.99 per year, the free offer will be in place until October and gives the user access for 12 months.
Helping the NHS overcome new challenges
The pandemic has had a huge impact on the UK health system, redirecting priorities and resources. We have been working around the clock to help the NHS overcome these challenges at this critical time.
We take steps to ensure that our medicines, tests and services continue to reach those who need them. Roche prides itself on its supply chain reliability, working closely with the NHS to ensure the supply needs are met, and we already hold significant stocks of our products in the UK as a matter of course. Our global manufacturing network has robust plans for dealing with the impact of potential health and other global crises. Roche is working with at pace and scale to mitigate future supply disruptions and respond to health challenges.
Some delays and disruptions have arisen, however, due to changes in demand for certain therapies, current transportation and travel restrictions, and workforce capacity limitations in highly impacted COVID-19 locations. We are committed to mitigating any disruption: we work closely with our customers and partners to support capacity in the health system. Where possible, our dedicated teams on the ground also work with customers to distribute products and minimise any service disruption.
At present, we are not experiencing any disruption to our supply chain. We continue to work closely with the NHS to monitor the situation and will take appropriate action as necessary.
Since early March, everyone at Roche has been working remotely where possible. Like everyone, this has meant coming to terms with new routines, family situations and other anxieties. Here our goal is to allow our people to adjust to this new situation and prioritise their emotional and family wellbeing.
We can also confirm that we are not placing anyone under furlough and will not be changing anybody’s pay and conditions as a result of Covid-19.
Our people are both highly skilled and passionate about helping others during this time. That is why we are supporting employees to undertake voluntary work to give our partners, health service and communities the urgent help they need.
- Volunteering: We are supporting all our colleagues who wish to volunteer throughout the pandemic. While our work means we’re already working to support healthcare, where possible our medically trained employees can also return to the NHS front line.
- Customers: We are reaching out to those we work with to see what we can do to help during this period.
- Charity partners: Each year our employees vote for charities to support throughout the year. We are continuing to raise money for those charities such as Action for Children and the East & North Hertfordshire NHS Trust as well as continuing our work to champion STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) through our ambassador programme.